Review: Creature-Feature Sting Offers Solid Effects but Inconsistent Story and Thrills

It’s unfortunate that in a couple weeks, a far better deadly-spider movie called Infested is coming out, but that because it’s in a foreign language and being released after this week’s Sting, many of you will never see it. That being said, I feel confident that those with discerning tastes in horror films will make the effort. For now, I’ll stick to talking about the subpar Sting, which is about 12-year-old Charlotte (Alyla Browne) and her new best friend, a tiny pet spider that grows rapidly, becoming a flesh-eating beast that threatens to devour her entire family, including her mother Maria (Silvia Colloca), beloved stepfather Ethan (Ryan Corr), and newborn brother.

I don’t think it’s a spoiler to say that said spider isn’t actually a spider after all, since in one of the film’s earliest scenes, we’re shown that the creature is actually from outer space. One of the things Sting has going for it is that a great deal of the film’s spider effects are handled practically by WETA Workshop, and they are indeed quite realistic looking, with scary, chomping teeth(?) and wiry legs that are bigger each time with see the unholy monster.

Charlotte (get it?) is one of those angsty preteens that I love so much in movies, so she’s always disobeying her parents. That ends up putting her entire apartment building in danger, as well as a series of exterminators who come looking for what is causing noises in the walls and in the air ducts, including Frank, played by Jermaine Fowler. In fact, a significant portion of the film takes place in the air ducts which seem to go in every direction that is required by the screenplay, regardless of whether the bends, curves and overall size make sense. There are some jokes made at the expense of some of the older characters in the film, including the cheap owner of the building and another character who I believe is Charlotte’s grandmother, who seems to have severe memory issues and is the reason multiple exterminators show up at the building and then disappear.

Even a bad spider movie has something to offer, simply because so many of us are terrified of the eight-legged nightmares, and Sting isn’t a terrible movie by any stretch. It just doesn’t feel all that groundbreaking or inspired, especially in such close proximity to the terror machine known as Infested, which features thousands of spiders also growing quite rapidly. Browne does a fairly impressive job playing Charlotte, even if the character is written as a one-note mopey kid. The family dynamic is the only thing really holding this one together dramatically, and even that feels forced and inconsistent at times. Written and directed by Kiah Roache-Turner (of the Wyrmwood franchise, including the most recent, Wyrmwood: Apocalypse), Sting is not one of the better horror offerings in recent weeks.

The film is now playing in theaters.

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Steve Prokopy

Steve Prokopy is chief film critic for the Chicago-based arts outlet Third Coast Review. For nearly 20 years, he was the Chicago editor for Ain’t It Cool News, where he contributed film reviews and filmmaker/actor interviews under the name “Capone.” Currently, he’s a frequent contributor at /Film (SlashFilm.com) and Backstory Magazine. He is also the public relations director for Chicago's independently owned Music Box Theatre, and holds the position of Vice President for the Chicago Film Critics Association. In addition, he is a programmer for the Chicago Critics Film Festival, which has been one of the city's most anticipated festivals since 2013.